UCL Recap, Highlights: Atletico Madrid ousts La Liga rival Barcelona, Bayern put United to the sword

IMAGE, CLUBATLETICOMADRID.COM

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Atletico Madrid have never been to a Champions League semifinal, but in this dream season, anything is possible — including beating rival Barcelona on aggregate to advance in the tournament.

The teams had drawn four time previously this season, but Koke was able to get the lone-goal to tip the match in Atletico’s favor. It is Barcelona’s earliest exit from the competition in seven years.

The goal came in the 5th minute of play. Adrian Lopez fired off the post, an early theme of the match with Atletico hitting the frame of the goal three times in the opening 20 minutes, but the home side was able to keep possession. David Villa sent in a cross from the right that was headed back across the face of the goal. Unmarked, Koke swept the ball home with his first touch.

With Atletico’s inability to put the game away early, most days Barca would be backed to capitalize on those wasted chances. However, the Catalans never quite fired on all cylinders.

It took until late in the first half for Barcelona to settle into the match and they had their best chance just on the other side of the break. Xavi, who had a 100% completion rating to his passes (the first to do so with 100 passes since the start of the stat collection in 2003-04 season), picked out Neymar. The chance went begging as keeper Thibault Courtois rushed out early to take it off the Brazilian’s feet.

Barcelona had a chance moments later through Lionel Messi, but his shot went over the bar. Neymar then had a great chance late on, but saw his header go inches wide of the post.

Atletico, who have a slender point lead over Barcelona in La Liga, may very well have the psychological advantage with the teams closing out their season against each other. They may also have the advantage in the Champions League as well. The last four teams to knock out Barca have went on to win the title.

Other Champions League Results

1. Bayern Dominant After Conceding First–  Bayern Munich were always the favorites coming in, not just to defeat Manchester United, but for the whole competition. For mere moments, the Red Devils looked like they could pull another famous victory off against Bayern. If you blinked, you would have missed it.

The first half went according to plan for United. Although, Bayern dominated possession, the score line remained at 0-0 and 1-1 on aggregate. As long as United, didn’t concede, they were always in with a chance.

It was the Red Devils that went on to take the lead through a superb strike from Patrice Evra off the half-volley in the 57th minute. In the end, that’s as good as it got for the visitors.

Bayern roared back with three goals of their own to push them into the semifinals. Moments after the ball came back into play from Evra’s goal, the German giants were equalizing as Mario Mandzukic headed home.

Arjen Robben, who troubled the United defense throughout, picked out Thomas Muller. With his first touch, Muller steered it in to the back of the net in the 66th minute. Bayern then had a third eight minutes later through Robben. He predictably cut in from the right, beat Evra and then Nemanja Vidic to score with his preferred left foot.

With the loss and United’s league position, the Red Devils look set for at least a full year without Champions League competition.


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